Thursday night, the Republican candidates for governor and lieutenant governor joined state Senate candidate Ray Robbins and the entire Republican slate of county candidates at the Talladega County Republican Party meeting. An estimated 120 likely voters turned out to hear the candidates speak.
Even though this was a partisan event, it gave local voters the chance to meet a large number of the candidates on the ballot face to face. What it did not provide was the opportunity to hear from and meet the opposing candidates.
With only 38 days left before the election, hearing from the candidates in their own voices becomes ever more important for voters trying to make up their minds, especially for the local races. Although local candidates have more opportunities to meet voters one on one — they have less area to cover — they tend to have much smaller campaign war chests and advertising budgets. It’s rare to see a slick TV commercial for a candidate for a county office.
So if you don’t already know the candidates, how are you to decide between them?
That’s the primary reason the Talladega Rotary Club has organized a bipartisan candidates’ forum at the Ritz Theatre on Oct. 14. The forum will bring together the candidates from both parties so that they may present their ideas in person, face to face not only with voters but also with their opponents.
The Daily Home is a co-sponsor of the event and will provide a live blog and video coverage that will remain on our website until the election.
The Ritz seats about 500 people, and the organizers say they’re hoping for a standing-room-only crowd.
While the forum will give the local candidates their best access to a large number of voters, it will also allow local voters to have what may be their only chance before the election to meet the two candidates for governor. Both Democrat Ron Sparks and Republican Robert Bentley have committed to take part in the forum.
Not all the candidates for other statewide races have confirmed yet, but the list so far includes Republican nominee for lieutenant governor Kay Ivey and Democratic nominee for attorney general James Anderson, both of whom, to their credit, made swings through Talladega County before the primaries. We welcome them back and hope that their opponents will join them at the forum.
Among local candidates who have signed on are both candidates for state Senate District 11, Democrat Jerry Fielding and Republican Ray Robbins; candidates for state House District 35 incumbent Democrat Steve Hurst and Republican rival Steve Dean; candidates for district judge incumbent Democrat Jeb Fannin and Republican opponent Jeane Rasco; and county commission District 2 candidates incumbent Democrat Tony Haynes and Republican John Luker. Ron Struzik, Republican candidate for state House District 32, will be there, but so far the incumbent candidate, Democrat Barbara Boyd, has not confirmed. And Sheriff Jerry Studdard, the Democratic incumbent, will be there, but his Republican opponent Dallas Davenport has not yet confirmed.
With such a large number of candidates, debate will not be possible. Instead, each candidate will have eight minutes to speak. To help the candidates tailor their messages to the issues most important to the Talladega audience, we encourage readers to submit questions by Oct. 7. These will be forwarded to the candidates. Duplicate questions may be combined.
The Daily Home is collecting readers’ questions for the candidates on its website. The Talladega Rotary Club is accepting them by e-mail at email@example.com or by mail at Talladega Rotary, P.O. Box 141, Talladega, Al., 35161.
One indisputable fact is that the next governor of Alabama will be at the Ritz the night of Oct. 14. If you come and shake hands with both candidates, you’ll have a story for your grandkids. It will begin, “Did I ever tell you about the time I met the governor?”
Submit a question for the candidates.